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knew that it would poison him? or the robe he is go. ing to wear, if you knew that it would infect him with the plague? On the other hand, you may err in your pity. You say, such a friend, alas! is reduced ; but he is only taken down from the hill of danger, and placed in the vale of safety. You say, He groans; yes, a limb is amputating ; but it is to save the whole body from mortification and death.
Thirdly. The prosperity of the wicked, and the sufferings of the righteous, are a mystery, which has often perplexed even good men; but here it is explained. He can give in wrath, and refuse in mercy. He can indulge us to destruction ; and he can chasten us that we may not be condemned with the world.
Fourthly. Here we can harmonize the character and promise of God with those denials which He sometimes gives to our petitions. He is a God hearing prayer. He has said, “ Ask, and it shall be given “ you ; seek, and ye shall find.” But you have im. plored many things which you have never obtained. This helps you to understand the Scriptures, and shews you with what conditions and qualifications God has spoken. He did not engage to gratify your desires, whether his indulgence would be beneficial or injurious. This would have been a threatening, not a promise. A heathen could say, “ It is kind in the “Gods not to hear us, when we pray for things that care evil.” If a man give good things" unto his children in answer to their reasonable and needful desires, he is a good father ; and who would think of reflecting upon him as not discharging the duties of his relation, because he does not, while they
are incapable of judging for themselves, give them a knife or a loaded pistol, or fuffer them to climb a ladder, and becoming giddy expose themselves to instant destruction! · Let us learn also, with what a referve we should always pray. Let us not.presume to determine before. hand that certain things are indispensably necessary, and because we think we absolutely want them, grow fretful and miserable when we are refused. This is to prescribe to God; to impeach his wisdom and his goodness; and nothing can be more improper in the unworthy who have no claims, and in the ignorant who have been so often deceived in their judgments. Let us always refer ourselves to his counsel ; let us be always his followers, not his guides ; let us trust, and not teach him, and let us learn to imitate the example of David, who in a case the most trying, said, “ Carry “ back the ark of God into the city : if I shall find “ favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me a“ gain, and shew me both it and its habitation. But “if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold “ here I am, let him do to me as seemeth good to him.” And be it remembered, this is the way to succeed. When God gives in kindness, he produces a previous temperance of defire, which will allow him to indulge us with safety, A preparation for our mercies is as
necessary as a preparation for our trials and our duties; . who thinks of this ?
Finally, The subject says to us in forcible language, be moderate in your defires ; “let your conversation “ be without covetousness; be content with such things “ as ye have.” “Seekest thou great things to thyself,
« seek them not.” Our Saviour teaches you this leffon in your very devotion ; “ Give us this day our 6 daily bread.” All Jacob stipulates for is “ bread 6 to eat and raiment to put on.” And “having food "and raiment,” says an apostle, “ let us be therewith " content.”. This is the grand improvement we ought to make of the piece of history before us; “now " these things were our examples, TO THE INTENT “THAT WE SHOULD NOT LUST AFTER EVIL THINGS, " AS THEY ALSO LUSTED.” How were quails evil things? Is not every creature of God good ? The case was this ; they were evil in their consequences, and also in the principle from which they were desired. These Jews craved them unnecessarily; they had a fufficiency before from the miraculous and merciful providence of Heaven ; they craved them intemperately and unsubmissively; they demanded ; "they “wept aloud.” Christians, beware of such senseless and inordinate longings ; beware of a roving fancy; of imaginary wants; of unfanctified wishes. "Dearly “ beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, " abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” “ They that are Christ's, have crucified the flesh with “the affections and lusts."
Men and Brethren, we have forbidden you to seek after temporal things with too much solicitude ; but remember, it is farotherwise with regard to divine concerns. Spiritual blessings suit the soul ; afford real fatisfaction ; secure the friendship of God; endure for ever; these are our perfection. Here we cannot be too earnest, too ambitious, too covetous. “ Open thy “ mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Ask and receive, that “ your joy may be full.” “And this I pray “ that your love may abound yet more and more in “knowledge and in all judgment ; that ye may ap- prove things that are excellent ; that ye may be fin“ cere and without offence till the day of Christ; be“ ing filled with the fruits of righteousnefs, which are
And hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God
is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
THE Christian never finds this world to be his reft. He is called to 'a life of labour and difficulty; of mortification and reproach. His afflictions are many; but he poffeffes one incomparable advantage: he has a hope full of immortality. This renders every duty delightful; this teaches him in whatfoever state he is, therewith to be content; this enlightens his darkness, and alleviates his forrow. Like á helmet of salvation, it guards his head in the day of battle, Like an anchor of the soul, it holds and secures him in the storms of adversity. Like a pleasing companion, it travels with him through all the tediousness of the wilderness, and often reminds him of his removal from this vale of tears, to the rest that remains for the people of God. He is saved by hope. He rejoices in hope. . .'".
Of this hope the apostle speaks in the words which we have read, and his language is peculiarly worthy